Some people have a magic touch, specifically the ability to transfer energy through their hands for meditative and spiritual purposes.

Luis Sanchez, a local Reiki practitioner, said anyone can acquire this ability through the art of Reiki, a mode of therapeutic touch.

“You’re applying the principle of self-love to the cells and the organs, and as you do that, they start helping you,” he said. “It opens up the path for the energy to flow out of your body.”

Different forms of therapeutic touch have been around for centuries, but the system of Reiki was not developed until 1922 by Dr. Mikao Usui in Japan. The practice revolves around the idea that there is a universal life force that is concentrated in seven energy centers in beings called chakras, Sanchez said.

In “The Chakras and the Human Energy Fields,” Shafica Karagulla, a psychiatrist, writes that these energies revolve around the chakra core, pulsating rhythmically in constant harmonic motion.

“The torrent of incoming energy from the general field pours into the chakras, and because of their pattern of organization this produces a whirling or spinning motion,” she writes. “This flow does not affect their basic geometrical structure, however, for that remains constant.”

During a Reiki therapy session, the practitioner first assesses which chakras are operating inefficiently due to blockages, which in effect overworks the fully operational chakras, Sanchez said.

Blockages are commonly described in terms of temperature or color, he said. Someone attuned to Reiki energy can feel areas that are significantly hotter with a more vibrant color emanation and understand there is chaotic energy built up.

He said these blockages, the root of illness, are then corrected by channeling love energy through the practitioner’s body, through his hands and into the problem area. Simultaneously, the practitioner visualizes one of many Reiki symbols to focus their intent, he said.

“Any energy can be transformed,” Sanchez said. “So energy that is disorganized, through a process of transforming it, we can start elevating it, little by little, from very disorganized, to organized, to highly organized. As we do that we’re taking it from chaotic to kind of okay to kind of heavy, beautiful, loving energy.”

In the 2009 report, “Systematic Review of the Therapeutic Effects of Reiki,” a review of all studies to date about the practice concludes that while Reiki use is growing in North America, there is not adequate scientific data to prove its effectiveness.

This is the result of too few studies on the subject and the invariably poor quality of the studies that have been conducted, the report said.

However, Tamisha Sabrina of the UK Reiki Foundation, wrote in an article entitled “The Science Behind Reiki” that independent research during the 1980s, conducted by Dr. Robert Becker and Dr. John Zimmerman, yielded some important findings.

The brain wave patterns of the practitioner and receiver supposedly become synchronized, which is not only characteristic of deep relaxation and meditation, because the brain waves also pulse in unison with the Schumann Resonance, or Earth’s magnetic field.

“During these moments, the biomagnetic field of the practitioners’ hands is at least 1000 times greater than normal, and not as a result of internal body current,” she wrote. “It is interesting to note that Dr. Becker carried out his study on world-wide array of cross-cultural subjects, and no matter what their belief systems or customs, or how opposed to each other their customs were, all tested the same.”

Mary O’Gara, local Reiki master, said even without scientific evidence she knows relaxation is an important step in enabling the body to heal. The practice is spiritual, meaning the intent behind it determines the quality of the receiver’s experience. The practitioner is simply a vessel for the energy to flow through and the receiver can draw on this energy or not, depending on what their bodies need. In this respect, each individual experience varies, making any sound conclusion regarding the subjective experience difficult, Ogara said.

Dr. William Tiller, professor emeritus of Stanford University’s Department of Materials Science, has executed a series of experiments in the last 30 years as part of his mission of developing “Psychoenergetic Science.”

He said he has proven the power of human intention through these experiments. One experiment studied water that was bottled from the same source while channeling different energies. The water was then frozen. Each bottle crystallized in a different way, though no chemicals were added.

The field of quantum mechanics may be coming closer to bridging the gap between science and spirituality, but Sanchez said the scientific basis of Reiki is almost irrelevant when every 30 years or so we realize that we were wrong about something we thought had been grounded in science. In the meantime, Sanchez said tools like Reiki that support emotional and spiritual well-being, not just physical health, remain valid.

“At the root of every dysfunction in a human being is emotion,” he said. “If I can heal their emotions, I can free their mind to do other things that would be helpful to them, and then to treat other ailments they have physically.”